Alienware Alpha Review And Essential Information of its Product

If you’re a gaming enthusiast and you're looking for the best gaming hardware, you might find it tough to choose between the multitude of options available in the market. Choosing the right hardware and platform is essential as it can elevate your gaming experience to new heights. The Alienware Alpha is one such piece of gaming hardware that delivers the best gaming experience combined with unmatched flexibility.

In this article, you will know more about the Alienware Alpha and how it stacks up against traditional gaming consoles such as the Xbox and the PlayStation.

What Is the Alienware Alpha?

The Alienware Alpha is a full-fledged computer that comes in a small form-factor, akin to the various gaming consoles. Basically, it is a PC-Console hybrid that lets you game and use it as a PC. The Alpha was designed to be portable, lightweight, and easy to use, and plugs directly into a television or a monitor.

The mini gaming PC comes with Windows 8.1 and Steam right out of the box. This lets you enjoy the multitude of game titles available on Steam, and transforms the gaming PC into a full console with Steam Big Picture.

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The Alienware Alpha lets you enjoy a streamlined gaming experience without the need to fiddle around with software. The internals of the Alpha come packaged in a stylish build with the ability to customize and change the lighting zones according to your preferences with AlienFX.

Also, if you ever feel the need to upgrade the hardware of the Alienware Alpha, it is as simple as opening it up and swapping the parts out without voiding the warranty.

Although it is primarily meant to be a gaming console, the Alienware Alpha has its limits. It does a great job of playing games at medium to high settings. However, it struggles to handle games at maximum settings because its small form-factor acts as a bottleneck.

Price: $$$

The Alienware Alpha can be found on Amazon for around $$ to $$$ at the base configuration.

Ease of Use: 5 Stars

As the Alienware Alpha was designed to replicate a gaming console’s simplicity, it is one of the easiest to use gaming PCs ever manufactured. Setting up the Alienware Alpha hardly takes time, as you can simply hook it up to a television and a controller and start playing games.

With the console mode in the Alpha, you don’t even require a mouse or a keyboard as it lets you manage basic PC functions with just the controller. But with a keyboard and a mouse plugged in, the Alienware Alpha opens itself up completely and lets you use it as a standard PC, in addition to being able to play games.

Assembly Time: 5 Stars

The Alienware Alpha does not require any fancy cables or tweaks to get it to work. The time taken to set it up and get it working is on par with a traditional gaming console. All that you’ll need is an HDMI cable to connect the Alpha to a television or a monitor.

Design Quality: 5 Stars

The Alienware Alpha is characterized by a glowing Alienware power button on the front and is wrapped by glossy plastic on the sides with the top finished in matte plastic. The build quality is on par with other traditional gaming consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox, but the Alienware Alpha is noticeably smaller and lighter than both of them.

The construction is solid, sturdy, and does not creak or flex. Unlike the other consoles, the Alienware Alpha is easy to dismantle by just removing four screws. Access to the internal hardware components is made easy as you just have to remove a couple of plastic clips.

Warranty: 5 Stars

Dell offers a one-year limited warranty on the Alienware Alpha.

Pros

  • Features a portable design
  • Supports a large game library with more than 3,500 titles
  • Comes with the ability to upgrade the internal components
  • Equipped with a host of connectivity options

Cons

  • Expensive when compared with gaming consoles
  • GPU is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded

 Product Specs

You get a choice of three different processors with the Alienware Alpha. The base variant comes with a 2.9 GHz i3 processor, the mid variant comes with a 2 GHz i5 processor, and the top variant comes with a 2 GHz i7 processor. Each of the three variants is coupled with a 2GB NVIDIA GTX 860M GPU. The Alpha is equipped with either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3 RAM, depending on the variant you choose.

Pricing

The price of the Alpha is dependent on three factors: the processor, the RAM, and the hard drive. The price starts at around $580 for the base configuration, with the mid-level Alpha retailing for around $800. The top-end variant goes up to as much as around $900. The Alpha can be bought online through Dell, Amazon, or Best Buy, among others.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • Sony PlayStation 4
  • Microsoft Xbox One
  • ASUS VM65N-G063Z VivoMini PC

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The latest iteration in Sony’s stable of gaming consoles is the PlayStation 4. Truly the one that started it all, the PlayStation 4 improves upon the negatives and drawbacks of its previous generations and provides an unmatched, immersive gaming experience.

With access to tons of AAA titles and PlayStation exclusive games such as Gran Turismo Sport and Street Fighter V, there’s no end to the entertainment it promises. With the PlayStation app on your smartphone, you can control your PS4 from anywhere.

Price: $

The Slim 1TB Sony PlayStation 4 can be found on Amazon for around $$ to $$$, whereas the Pro 1TB PlayStation 4 is available for around $$$.

Ease of Use: 5 Stars

The PlayStation 4 features an overhauled interface and app store that dramatically simplifies interface navigation. Being a long-standing gaming console, the PS4 comes with tons of features that make it easy to use.

For instance, the Remote Play feature lets you stream your PS4 games on your laptop or desktop and play them. Also, with a dedicated share button on the PS4 controller, you can share screenshots or in-game videos straight to Facebook or Twitter with just a push of a button.

Assembly Time: 5 Stars

Similar to the Alienware Alpha, the PlayStation 4 does not require any assembly time at all. It is just a matter of unboxing the console, connecting it to your TV, and powering it on. The first-time setup process is swift and easy and takes just about 20 minutes from the time you first power it up.

Design Quality: 4 Stars

The PlayStation 4 is one of the nicest looking gaming consoles out in the market. Unlike the Alienware Alpha, which sports a boxy structure, the PS4 is aesthetically designed and features slant lines and slim construction.

The PS4 utilizes the industrial design philosophy and gives you the freedom to place it either horizontally or vertically. The exceptional design quality carries over to even the DualShock controller of the PS4, with ergonomic handles and solid buttons that have good click feedback.

Warranty: 5 Stars

In tune with the Alienware Alpha, Sony also offers a one-year limited hardware warranty on the PlayStation 4.

Pros

  • Features a great range of exclusive games that are also highly acclaimed
  • Graphics quality is much better than other gaming consoles
  • The controller features a design that is familiar yet ergonomic
  • The user interface is simple and easy to navigate and does not have a huge learning curve

Cons

  • Battery life of the controller is slightly on the shorter side
  • The disc drive can get noisy at times

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A successor to the highly successful Xbox 360, the Microsoft Xbox One is not just a gaming console but a complete smart entertainment hub. With the HDMI pass-through, the Xbox One can be used to watch live TV on the console.

This version of the Xbox One cannot be placed in an upright position, unlike the S and X editions of the Xbox One. The noise levels of the console are nowhere near the PS4, as it runs much quieter. The console also sacrifices on gaming performance in lieu of focusing more on Kinect and home entertainment features.

Price: $

The Microsoft Xbox One can be found on Amazon for around $$ for the S edition and $$$ for the X edition.

Ease of Use: 4 Stars

The Xbox One, with its huge external power adapter, is on par with the Alienware Alpha in the ease-of-use department. The UI is slightly less intuitive and sometimes too busy, with pages on pages of settings and options.

However, the controller is where the Xbox One takes the cake. The buttons on the controller are placed perfectly and can be accessed easily. The controller requires AA batteries that last a lot longer and are easier to swap out in the event of a low charge.

Assembly Time: 3 Stars

Although the Xbox One does not require any extra or additional time to assemble the hardware components, it requires a Day 1 software update as soon as you power it on for the first time. Without the update, you can’t proceed to use any of the functionalities of the console. As the update measures more than 1 GB, you might be waiting for quite a while for it to complete.

Design Quality: 5 Stars

The Xbox One might not be as aesthetic and flamboyant as the PlayStation 4 or the Alienware Alpha, but it stands out when it comes to the build quality. The console has a lot of room to breathe and dissipate heat, thereby making it run cooler and quieter. The quality of the materials used is much better than other gaming consoles.

Warranty: 5 Stars

Microsoft offers a one-year warranty for the Xbox One and a 90-day warranty on all Xbox accessories.

Pros

  • Perfect for multimedia and entertainment
  • Supports voice and gesture commands with Cortana
  • Has support for external hard drives
  • Lets you multi-task and switch between apps with the built-in snap mode
  • Runs cooler and quieter when compared with the PlayStation 4

Cons

  • Bigger and bulkier when compared with other alternatives
  • Low on performance and graphics quality when compared with the PlayStation 4

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Based on the Intel NUC platform, the Asus VivoMini is a compact mini PC equipped with a discrete NVIDIA GT930M GPU. The mini PC with Vivo DualBay lets you accommodate up to 2 hard drives for extra storage.

Unlike the other products in this list, the VivoMini PC comes with speakers integrated into the unit. With just 35dB of operating noise levels, the VivoMini is designed to deliver high performance without the noise interfering.

Price: $$$

The Asus VivoMini PC can be found on Amazon for around $$ to $$$ depending on the configuration of the PC.

Ease of Use: 4 Stars

As the VivoMini PC is a full-fledged computer that runs Windows, its ease-of-use factor is comparable to that of a laptop or desktop running windows.

Assembly Time: 4 Stars

The VivoMini PC has an assembly time that is relatively the same as that of the Alienware Alpha. But additionally, you need to hook up a keyboard and a mouse to it to be able to use the PC.

Design Quality: 4 Stars

The chassis of the VivoMini is made out of robust and sturdy plastic with a brushed metal finish on the top of the PC. The chassis can be simply slid open to access the internal hardware components, which are also upgradable. The smooth rounded edges of the VivoMini enhance the premium look and feel of the device.

Warranty: 5 Stars

Asus offers a one-year limited warranty on the VivoMini PC.

Pros

  • Comes with a lot of connectivity options and ports
  • Fully compatible with VESA mounts
  • Vivo DualBay offers plenty of storage options
  • Runs quietly and makes very little noise

Cons

  • The built-in hard drive is too slow
  • Upgrading the memory is tricky as you have to remove the hard drive bay to access the slots

Comparison Table

Product

Image

Details

Rating

Price

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Operating System

Windows 8


Item Weight

4 pounds


Product Dimensions

7.9 x 7.9 x 2.2 inches

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Operating System

-


Weight

7.43 pounds


Product Dimensions

16.7 x 3.7 x 13.5 inches

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Operating System

8.3 x 1.61 x 4.92 in


Weight

10.7 pounds


Product Dimensions

11.8 x 9.4 x 2.4 inches

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Operating System

Windows 10


Weight

2.6 pounds


Product Dimensions

7.5 x 7.5 x 2.2 inches

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Conclusion

With powerful hardware, fully upgradable components, and the ability to be used either as a full-fledged console or as a PC, the Alienware Alpha scores high on the flexibility factor. In addition to that, the small footprint of the device makes it easy to accommodate almost anywhere.

The graphics performance is the main highlight of the Alpha as it beats both the gaming consoles and the VivoMini PC on this list by a considerable margin. Also, the number of game titles it has access to far exceeds the titles on both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One combined.

 After carefully taking into consideration the above factors, we award the Alienware Alpha with 5 stars out of 5.

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